Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (22 July 2015)

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Date of Auction: 22nd July 2015

Sold for £5,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

An Albert Medal awarded to Fireman George Higson for gallantry at the Clifton Hall Colliery Explosion, near Manchester, on 18 June 1885

Albert Medal, 2nd Class, for Gallantry in Saving Life on Land (Presented in the name of Her Majesty to George Higson Fireman for gallantry at the Clifton Hall Colliery Explosion on the 18th June 1885) reverse of crown with ‘Phillips, Cockspur St’ cartouche, in its Phillips Bros. & Son red leather presentation case, the lid with gilt embossed inscription ‘Presented in the name of Her Majesty to George Higson for gallantry in saving life on land’, very fine £6000-8000


Two 1st Class and four 2nd Class Albert Medals were awarded for the Clifton Hall Colliery disaster, near Manchester, on 18 June 1885. Over 150 lives were lost after a terrible explosion ripped through several of the seams then being worked. The following extract is taken from The Times, 19th June:

‘The atmosphere of the mine now became worse, and the explorers worked with difficulty. Many of them upon coming to the surface were quite exhausted and unable to re-enter upon their duties. There were plenty of men, however, willing and able to take their places. The last batch of rescuers went down the mine shortly before 4 o’clock. It was composed of 30 men, and was joined at the bottom by George Hickson (sic), a fireman who throughout the day displayed the coolest courage and the noblest heroism. His special duty was to manipulate the signals between the bottom of the shaft and the engine-house above. He had entered the mine as early as 4 o’clock that morning. He was in it when the explosion occurred, and he steadfastly refused to leave it, declaring that the signals were under his care and that he would remain and see that they were worked properly for the convenience of rescuers and rescued.’

All six Albert Medal recipients were also awarded the Gold Medal of the Manchester and Salford Humane Society. Sold with several copied pages from The Times.